It's only a Goose

She was sitting about 10 feet from the road, next to the Bronx River Parkway southbound past Scarsdale towards New York City. I was on my way to visit friends and caught a glimpse of her in the flattened brown grass, cars whizzing past the shallow curb. Storm clouds thickened as we were expecting snow by evening, but slivers of sun still shone on the Canada goose resting close to the ground.

It was winter, not the season to sit on a nest. Besides, Canada geese usually move about in pairs or groups. There were no other geese on this wide expanse of what looked like frozen tundra. There were no bushes the isolated goose could hide under; she was fully exposed to the elements. And danger. Line after line of cars whisked past her.

Fortunately, a half mile ahead at the intersection of Harney Road, the light turned red, so I had a chance to slow up and have a good look. The brown and grey waterbird, with her distinctive white cheeks, looked injured, and though I was tempted to pull off the road onto the grass, I didn’t feel ready to get out of the car to approach her; I didn’t want to frighten (or tangle with) a defensive goose!

I looked around at the drivers behind and ahead of me. I wondered how many others noticed. How many suspected that there was something odd about a singular goose on the side of a highway? How many wondered at first what that thing is on the side of the road, then looked, and thought, as they drove on, oh, it’s only a goose. And how many wanted to help, but didn’t know who to call?

So I went to my destination, resolved that when I headed home, if the goose was still there, I would figure out a way to help her. Around 4:00, sure enough, there she was in the same spot by the side of the road as I headed north back up the parkway.

The sun had vanished, the wind had picked up, and the air smelled like snow. I imagined what some cruel people on foot might do to a lone, vulnerable bird, and pictured snow beginning to fall, covering a shivering creature stranded and powerless.

So I donned my animal rescuer identity. I have rescued dozens of animals through the years: mostly abandoned cats and dogs, but squirrels and seagulls, too. I’d never attempted to save a goose. And while anyone can rescue a Canada Goose and temporarily bring them to safety, only those with a United States Fish and Wildlife Migratory Bird Rehabilitation License are legally allowed to rehabilitate them.

I pulled over and dialed an animal rescuer contact who recommended I call Animal Nation, a wildlife rescue group headquartered in Northern Westchester. Within less than half an hour, I’d received a return phone call from Megan. She asked me for the specific location of the goose, and indicated that someone would be going out to pick her up to bring to Animal Nation’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Facility.

Later that evening, Megan called again to let me know that Vinny, one of the volunteers who specializes in helping geese, had had success! He had located the goose, just as the snow began, in the same spot where I’d seen her that afternoon.

He’d placed the injured creature in a box and drove her to the wildlife facility for treatment. It appeared, upon examination, that this poor goose had been hit by a car and her legs badly injured. But the good news: she was saved from a night alone in the frigid temps, dying from hypothermia.

For those of you who are drawn to animals, and whose hearts go out to wildlife in trouble, please consider taking action to help an injured animal when you see one. We are fortunate in this world for compassionate people who dedicate themselves actively to saving animals’ lives. Like the people who have formed Animal Nation, a committed group of passionate rescuers based in Pound Ridge, and who serve all of Westchester County and surrounding areas.

For further information on Animal Nation’s services, or to donate or even consider volunteering in a variety of capacities, please check out their website Animal Nation. Also, add their name and number to your contact list (as I have), so if you ever spot injured wildlife, you can immediately call Animal Nation at 914-400-6014. Be sure to leave detailed, specific information on the animal’s location, so a volunteer rescuer can easily find and bring the injured animal to safety.

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